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Tom Stenzel named executive director of CEA Food Safety Coalition

The Controlled Environment Agriculture Food Safety Coalition has retained The Stenzel Group LLC to provide management services, with the appointment of former United Fresh Produce Association President and CEO Tom Stenzel as its new executive director.

Tom StenzelThe CEA FSC was formed in 2019 to serve as a forum for leafy greens growers in high-tech greenhouses and indoor vertical farms to educate and share best practices with regulators, customers, and fellow indoor growers. Its first priorities were to develop credible, strong, and appropriate food-safety standards and communicate the value and benefits of controlled environment agriculture to the broader industry and ultimately to the consumer.  

Controlled environment agriculture takes a technology-based approach to produce optimal growing conditions inside controlled environments such as greenhouses and indoor vertical farms. Plants are typically grown year-round using hydroponic, aeroponic, or aquaponic methods, unaffected by climate or weather and without the need for pesticides.  

Stenzel will now work with the board to develop strategic and business plans to take the coalition to the next level in serving the controlled environment agriculture sector in the produce industry.

“Tom’s almost 30 years’ experience leading United Fresh and the recent combination with the Produce Marketing Association to form the International Fresh Produce Association makes him an outstanding leader to help us evolve our mission beyond just food safety and leafy greens to serve the broader controlled environment agriculture category,” said Marc Oshima, co-founder of AeroFarms and board chair of the CEA FSC.

“I’ve worked with many of these companies since their start-up,” Stenzel said.  “I’ve seen their potential, and am now watching their impact grow daily, as consumers and retailers alike embrace their role as high-quality, sustainable, safe, and local producers.  I’m excited to help this sector expand its impact.”

Stenzel succeeds Elisabeth Hagen, former USDA under secretary for food safety, who recently resigned as CEA FSC executive director.  “Elisabeth did a great job building on our core food safety platform and has set the stage for more expansive growth to service the broader controlled environment agriculture industry, and we will miss her leadership and expertise,” Oshima said.

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